It’s that time of the year when a big Dota 2 patch is released and Dota 2 gets a total overhaul. Last year, it was the introduction of neutral items and Outposts. This year…who knows?! But with the various new aspects of the game, another thing to look forward to is the hero changes. Typically, the patch that The International is played on lasts for a long time. Even though there was no TI this year, the 7.27 patch has had a similar trajectory to any TI patch. It was introduced in July and has gone on for nearly four months, meaning the meta is stale in terms of heroes. Here, we will not just look at patch 7.27, but the entire years worth of patches (from Dota 2 patch 7.23 to 7.27) to analyze which heroes were neglected and are in the need for some love. Throughout the year, since patch 7.23 was released, a total of 6044 professional games have been played till today (17th November). To be honest, there is a decent bit of versatility in this patch, but it’s always nice to liven things up in a few weeks. Let’s take a look at which heroes have had a bad year and really deserve a boost in Dota 2 patch 7.28.
1) Pudge (17 picks, 4 bans)
We start off with a very special case – the most picked pub hero, but the least picked professional hero. Pudge has hardly ever been popular in the professional scene; the only one time in recent memeory where he was a frequently picked hero was before TI8, when he had a level 1 Meat Hook cooldown of 17 seconds. That was a patch where the laning stage decided games and good early hooks could decide the fate of the lane. Once that was increased to 27 seconds, teams lost interest in him and he has gone so far down the pecking order, that Pudge was only contested in 21 games out of 6044 in this past year (0.35%). While no casual players want him to get any stronger, a slight rework or change that could prod him in the direction of a better professional career is something Pudge really needs. The new Pudge Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade doesn’t seem too popular. May be that’s a place to start.
2) Tinker (25 games picked, 23 games banned)
Making a case for buffing Tinker is pretty similar to making a deal with the devil or selling your soul, and yet, looking at his abysmal numbers, it needs to be said. Tinker is, probably along with Techies, the most annoying hero to play against in Dota 2, but he is unique one to say the least. He has the worst pick rate after Pudge in professional games in the past year. Since talents were nerfed by 20% in Dota 2 patch 7.26b, Tinker hasn’t really been touched and the patches haven’t been too favourable for him either. Before that, he lost the +150 GPM talent at level 15, which is a significant blow considering Tinker gets to level 15 well ahead of most heroes in the game. The 7.25 and 7.26 metas were death ball metas, which favoured faster pushing heroes. The 7.27 meta is a very carry focused meta, where four-protect-one is a pretty common strategy, for which farm heavy mid heroes like Tinker are a no go. Also playing Tinker in a patch where Spectre is dominating is not the best of ideas. The issue with the hero is, he isn’t like Mirana or Void Spirit or Tiny – heroes that can be played mid or offlane depending on the meta. He is pretty much a mid hero without too much versatality. So with the smallest of factors going agaist the mid lane makes him not so viable. Perhaps more than a buff, what Tinker needs is a favourable meta, and he’ll soon find out if he gets it.
3) Sniper (73 games picked, 39 games banned)
Who would have throught there would be time when Sniper would be played as a support? But that happened this year, and it was a good change of pace for the tiny marksman to be a regularly contested pick. But IceFrog probably lost a bunch of MMR because of it, because he went really hard with the nerf hammer on the Scepter Assassinate stun duration, which was the focal point of his support role. In the process, he also took heavy hits to Shrapnel and his cooldown talent (which went from 25% cooldown reduction to 15% cooldown reduction). The nerfs not only killed his popularity as a support, but also damaged his core potential. If not the assassinate stun, Sniper at least needs buffs to his other skills to make him a potential choice in the mid lane again (or even as a support; it was fun to see support Sniper).
4) Spiritbreaker (105 games picked, 20 games banned)
When Spiritbreaker got his new Scepter upgrade in Dota 2 patch 7.25, it seemed like he had a new lease of life. The increased Charge od Darkness speed from the Scepter along with Boots of Travel was the way to go in the offlane, but it wasn’t the way for a long time. Teams lost interest in it, probably because farming the required items took quite a bit of time. He also took hits to all eight of his talents in the talent nerf of patch 7.27b. The Scepter upgrade is defintiely good, but what the Space Cow needs is a buff or two that will make him strong even without an Aghanim’s Scepter. For the longest time, he has been the hero with the higest base attack time of 1.9 (most heroes have 1.7). May be it’s time to bring that down a bit?
5) Lion (108 games picked, 6 games banned)
PPD once described Lion as a tier 4 support without Blink who becomes a tier 1 support with a Blink. The key to that hero is getting a Blink Dagger (and not an Aghanim’s Scepter, as most ‘support’ Lions in pubs would say). When the GPM talents were taken away, Lion, just like Tinker, lost a +150 GPM talent at level 15 which has hampered his ability to keep up with item progression while supporting pretty heavily. A majority of his talents also got nerfed and even though there were a few buffs in the last patch, Lion will need a splash more to become a viable support. Patch 7.27 also moved his cast range talent from level 10 (+75) to level level 15 (+150). The increased cast range has doubled, but that switch in five levels definitely hurts as that level gain from level 10 to 15 isn’t the fastest for a support (earlier it was +100 at level 10), especially considering the fact that all four of his spells are enemy tagetted.
6) Bounty Hunter (123 games picked, 89 games banned)
Good old Bounty Hunter is always trying to find his place in Dota 2 – moving from offlane to support and back to offlane with a few stints as the carry in high level pubs. Of late though, BH hasn’t found a home in any lane. The new Scepter Upgrade from patch 7.25, that applies Jinada to Shuriken Toss, is a good meme but not something that is appreciated in serious games. Besides that, the game has gotten slightly tougher for invisible heroes on the whole. There is permanent true sight in the enemy jungle thanks to Outposts (which can’t be captured early on in the game) and Dust of Appearance has gotten cheaper as it can be bought as a single charge. Perhaps BH needs a nudge back in the direction of supporting to make him a good hero in the upcoming patch.
7) Clinkz (132 games picked, 111 games banned)
Like Bounty Hunter, Clinkz is another victim of the anti-invisible hero coalition. After Clinkz was reverted back to his old self (without Burning Army), the hero was popular for a very short while, but the numbers weren’t so good. In the 34 games that Clinkz was picked in 7.27 patch, he lost 20 games (41.18% win rate) and currently stands in the 15 least picked heroes of the patch. While the changes were steps in the right direction, it wasn’t enough and perhaps it also was a factor that he isnt’ the strongest hero to go toe-to-toe against the strong carries of this patch like Faceless Void, Spectre, Sven and Phantom Assassin. This is a stacking patch where supports prioritize stacking a lot and even though Clinkz can clear the big creeps quickly with Death Pact, he isn’t the best hero to take triple stacks of large camps, let along Ancient stacks. The Bone Fletcher just might have to wait for a more favourable patch for polularity, but a slight buff or two might help get him there faster.
8) Warlock (140 games picked, 51 games banned)
It seems like a long time ago that Fatal Bonds seemed one of the most broken skills in the game, because it was a long time ago. TI9 was probably the last tournament where Warlock was popular hero. Back then, he had a +60% XP talent at level 10, which shot him past enemy supports in terms of levels and helped him get to higher levels a lot quicker than any other position 5 hero would hope. Once he lost that with XP talents being taken away, no amout of small buffs were enough to make him a strong hero again. All eight of his talents got nerfed as well and he didn’t fall in the pool of heroes that got compensated in the very next patch. Warlock will need some all round buffs in the upcoming patch to make up for what he had before Dota 2 patch 7.23.
9) Shadow Shaman (174 games picked, 23 games banned)
Shadow Shaman is one of those heroes who, more than a buff, needs a team to use it to success in a tournament game and eventually, teams start picking him up. Like Warlock, Shaman lost an experience talent in patch 7.23, although it was +20% XP gained and not as high as Warlock’s. Since then, there have been slight buffs to the hero, but nothing too significant. Even though Shaman has a lot of disable, the standout point on his resume has been the Serpent Wards, which makes him one of the best pushing heroes in the game, if not the best. The loss of the XP talent makes it difficult and longer for Shaman to reach level 18 and get those level 3 Wards. Some buff added to the initial Serpent Ward level could possibly bring the hero back in contention again.
10) Luna (233 games picked, 163 games banned)
Imagine the fact that it is a stacking favoured meta and Luna, one of the quickest stack clearing heroes, is not strong pick. Her recent changelog has been a mixed bag and hasn’t really made a case for hero to be stronger than the meta carries. Even when she is played, Luna is played as hybrid of right click and magic damage, which is strong in the mid lane, but fades away as the game goes late. In 43 professional games played on this patch, Luna has managed to win only 18 of them (41.86% win rate), which clearly indicates that something needs to change. Considering IceFrog has tried for a while now to make Luna a meta pick and failed, it is difficult to say what it will require to do so. But it is surely high time this carry was seen as a regular pick in the professional scene.
These two heroes could do with some love as well. They have been picked irreularly in a few games here and there, but haven’t been the most popular of picks.
Based on how the last few months of Dota 2 have played out, some heroes are bound to get hit by the nerf hammer.
- Faceless Void
- Void Spirit
Which heroes do you think need a buff in Dota 2 patch 7.28? Let us know in the comments!